My oldest son and I are currently walking side by side through one of the worst seasons of our lives (and we have been through several really bad seasons together.) He has been a husband and a father for the past three years, not a perfect one, but a faithful – hardworking one. Today he is faced with separation from his wife and the act of fatherhood alone “on his days”. He and his wife have been bickering and arguing and not getting along for quite awhile – it happens in the best marriages – this did not happen overnight. Neither husband or wife was unfaithful (as far as we know) but something went wrong – and then something else went wrong. That continued spiraling until something went life shatteringly wrong. I’ll spare the gory details here for the sake of brevity, but when kindness and love are replaced by a bitter and unforgiving heart families are torn apart.
“Children are resilient” – “they’ll get over it” (divorce) – these statements have been spoken and the lie has been believed. Nobody really gets over divorce – God even hates it. While both statements roll off the tongue quickly – they stick like a deeply imbedded splinter in the tender flesh of the underside of a toddler’s chubby little foot. The splinter stops him in his tracks. It stops us all. Fear of removing the splinter is far more painful than actually removing it. The pain and the anxiety that splinters us will also hurt the people around us. It will not be something easily removed while we are still kicking and screaming.
I considered not writing today. Sadness is hovering over me threatening silence. While the entire world is practicing social distancing and many families are hunkered down enjoying the bonding that families need in order grow TOGETHER – a part of our family has grown apart and it is dying.
“We are battling an enemy we cannot see,” I hear that repeatedly on the news regarding COVID19. Its true – a virus is not something we can see in order to easily avoid its deadly effects – neither are bitterness and unforgiving hearts. There are massive amounts of sadness and depression and anxiety spreading rapidly throughout my family and our entire our world today. They are crouching at the door of my heart and I absolutely cannot let them overcome me or my family.
I almost didn’t write about this at all because I was told it was none of my business, but that’s not true. It affects me. It has affected every aspect of my life because I love my family- all of them including my bonus daughter. My son works a full time job and when his wife decided to move out and get a full time job my son was left to figure it out. Sure she asked if I could help care for her babies while she worked a full time job and I said yes, because the alternative was to place them in daycare – during a P A N D E M I C the very same week that our county shut down all public schools and the government began the first 15 days of practicing social distancing. She ghosted us! How can this be none of my business? It is absolutely my business and writing is my way of tilling up the dry, parched, hardening soil of my heart in order to make it a fertile place to plant the seeds of God’s truth. The truth is LOVE NEVER FAILS. And it is only by GOD that we will get through this without submitting to bitterness- truth is bitterness is the enemy. Not my bonus daughter. I do love her and I’m praying for her. But right now I’m having a hard time juggling a PANDEMIC and a broken family – I confess, I’m not responding in LOVE – I am not feeling or behaving like JESUS CHRIST WOULD and that bothers me, but I’m giving myself the grace to write it raw. Mercifully this all happened at once. This kind of sorrow spread out over many years might have been even worse. Maybe.
I’m not blaming my bonus daughter for needing help – because I understand the craziness of raising tiny humans – I raised three and now I’m helping raise my grandchildren. I understand that life is hard, but blaming my son for all her problems is what I cannot agree with. When we have an abundance of bitterness we blame those who are the easy targets. That’s where we go wrong. It would be very easy for me to blame her for things too, but I know she’s just human like me and her life has become unmanageable- I don’t blame her for wanting a change, but I will hold her accountable for her choices. Anything less would be insanely wrong. I don’t want to blame her, but wow her decision making skills are really messed up right now – I blame “the enemy we cannot see” – the a Bible calls it Spiritual Warfare and many families are on the frontline. There will be many casualties. Kindness is a weapon. Worshipping our HOLY GOD is a weapon – praying and believing for deliverance is a weapon. L O V E is a weapon. We must put on the full armor of God and stand in faith believing JESUS HAS ALREADY WON THIS WAR FOR US. They say that it takes a village to raise a child- I believe that is true. I’m switching the gears of my own life to make accommodations for her choices so this is my business.
I almost didn’t write today because of the viciousness of this situation. I had wondered if it would be wrong for me to write and publish my thoughts about what is happening in my family in real time. I questioned if my own anger towards this situation would be too toxic a subject to write about for such a time as this. I decided not to write the details since I don’t know all of them, also there is a chance I might be biased toward my son. But I’m a writer I write to heal myself and maybe to heal others. For the record I’m not blaming ANYONE for the anything but I am pointing and calling out the facts. The fact is one person does not want to be married to the other anymore, so she walked away from her family to start a new life. That’s her choice. That’s the fact. I’m not feeling very warm and fuzzy about any of this because her choices are NEGATIVELY affecting my life. While we all saw the waves of anger repeatedly breaking on the shore – none of us were prepared for the rip current that has nearly drowned an entire family. To quote Ann LaMott, “If people wanted you to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Ain’t that the truth!
The babies are in turmoil. Four lives have been shattered – actually many more than that. Bitterness is like a pandemic affecting the entire earth. It is a butterfly effect. When one person is unable to overcome the bitterness in their heart they flap their tiny wing and with that action there is a reaction.
Choosing bitterness is a bad habit – it is choosing death. A slow miserable death like smoking cigarettes – it will not happen overnight but even the surgeon general has warned – smoking cigarettes will cause death. It may not happen quickly, but it will happen. Choosing bitterness will end in death. The death of a relationship, the death of a marriage, the death of a family. SUBMITTING OUR WILL TO GOD’S WILL is the kryptonite for bitterness. Choosing kindness, forgiveness and love are choosing the high road. They are not the easy choices, but they are the choices that lead you to life and joy.